Thinking of Buying a Duplex?

Written by Posted On Friday, 03 February 2023 00:00

Buying a duplex means renting out one or both of the units. Is this a good move? It can be in the right circumstances but there are some things to consider before getting too much further. This same information applies to what is referred to as a ‘2-4’ unit property, where there are as many as four units while still being considered residential property. Any more units than four typically means the property is deemed a commercial transaction. Financing a commercial property means shorter term loans, a larger down payment requirements and higher rates. But financing a duplex or fourplex still means buying a residential property.

Perhaps one of the first things to consider is whether or not you’re up to being a landlord. You can probably remember when you first rented that whenever anything went wrong it wasn’t up to you to fix it. You simply called your landlord. Sink disposal on the blink? Call the landlord. Backed up drain? Landlord. These things weren’t your responsibility because you didn’t own the property. But in the case of a duplex or fourplex the units are indeed yours as well as your responsibility.

With a duplex, there’s less to take care of because there are only two units that you’re responsible for. For some, owners may even choose to hire a property manager to take care of any issues as they arise. With a four-unit property, this is almost a given.

On the financing end, if you choose to occupy one of the units in a duplex, you can get better rates as it’s considered owner-occupied and not strictly an investment property. You live in one of the units and your new tenant lives on the other side. 

There might be a little noise every now and then but then choosing your tenants properly can help dispel this issue. You’ll obviously want referrals and a rental history for your newfound tenants. A little due diligence on your part goes a long way. Especially when it comes to paying rent on time every month.

Finally, the rental income from the other unit can help offset part of your mortgage payment.
And depending upon the market, may be able to offset the mortgage payment altogether. This can be the ideal situation where you own the real estate and enjoy all the perks including property appreciation while having your tenant essentially pay your mortgage for you.

If this interests you, you’ll want to get with an experienced real estate agent. Go down the list of your requirements and let your agent find the perfect place!

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David Reed

David Reed (Austin, TX) is the author of Mortgages 101, Mortgage Confidential, Your Successful Career as a Mortgage Broker , The Real Estate Investor's Guide to Financing, Your Guide to VA Loans and Decoding the New Mortgage Market. As a Senior Loan Officer and Mortgage Executive he closed more than 2,000 mortgage loans over the course of more than 20 years in commercial and residential mortgage lending. 

He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, Fox and Friends and the Today In New York show. His advice has appeared in the New York Times, Parade Magazine, Washington Post and Kiplinger's as well as in newspapers and magazines throughout the country. 

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